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Our last questioneer was rescued from herself by a friend; but our latest correspondent Anon cannot face doing the same for his/her friend:
I’m a pretty big nerd and pretty much all of my friends are the same. We’re not totally without social graces, but there are a few quirks among our group and as someone who hangs out with the general “nerdy” type I’ve come to accept or ignore most of them. But one of my closest friends has a foible that I have a harder time with.
This person speaks LOUDLY. In general conversation they have a voice that carries, and while this isn’t so bad, when they get even remotely excited about something (which is often) they are practically screaming.
Now, this person isn’t doing it to be rude or strong arm the conversation. They are generally one of the nicest and most considerate people I know. But when we are in a small area like a car or small room this often hurts my ears, and I’ve seen other people react subtly but similarly to it. Out at restaurants this quirk gets us annoyed stares, and depending on our subject matter, worse.
I have once or twice tried to nicely say “Ooh we’re (or you’re) getting loud and excited we should quiet down”, but this doesn’t seem to stick and I feel like an asshole for saying it because I know this person is a little bit sensitive. I’ve also tried speaking lowly to try and model or encourage this person to lower their voice, but it hasn’t worked.
I have no idea how else to handle this, or even if it can be handled. I really love my friend, but I’d really like to be able to communicate this to them without hurting their feelings. I know I’d like to know if I did this. Answer me this: is there a way to deal with this problem and not offend my friend?
You have already tried the gentle approach and, while it didn’t offend your friend, it didn’t shut them up either. If you’re still not willing to broach the subject directly with them, entreat one of your bolder mutual friends to do it instead. Alternatively, here are some options:
1. When your friend gets loud, ostentatiously put in earplugs. If that doesn’t register, upgrade to large noise-cancelling headphones. Eg the kind that people wear whilst chainsawing.
2. From a theatrical prop supplier, buy some of those wineglasses that are safe to smash. With your nerd-friends, rig up a gadget so you can smash the glasses remotely. When Captain Shouty gets shouty, detonate.
3. Contract laryngitis, then give it to your friend.
4. Pay somebody to dress as a librarian and follow your friend around. Whenever your friend exceeds a certain volume, the librarian disapprovingly shushes them. After a couple of weeks, the message should have sunk in.